My interest in editing arose out of writing medico-legal reports. I did not write from scratch but worked on raw documents. I was given information captured by many other people in the sequence of events that comprises medico-legal assessments. The raw information I received had to be used, developed and amended in a way that made the report logical in flow but also in style. This initiated my role as an editor, in addition to that of writer.
What is editing?
Logic | Clarity | Structure | Style | Accuracy | Completeness | Consistency
Outside of the publishing sector in which editing roles are clearly defined, editing broadly refers to making sure a piece of writing follows a logical order, not only across the document but also within sections, sub-sections and paragraphs. Editors make sure that the correct meaning is conveyed and that the writing makes sense. It is also important that the style of writing is congruent with its purpose and that unnecessary information is removed. A medico-legal report needs to be factual, rather than emotive. An academic dissertation needs to show an understanding of theory through relevant and correct referencing and application of knowledge. A fiction novel needs to read comfortably, might evoke emotions and would be less likely to contain bullet points and sub-headings!
Outside of the publishing sector, it is not uncommon for an editor to also see to proofreading. This is covered in a separate tab. Please feel free to visit that page.
The editor-client relationship
Contrary to what might be believed, an editor’s role does not need specialisation in a specific field. A good editor adjusts quickly to the writing requirement at hand. Direct and regular communication with the client also supports an optimal outcome. Many businesses, learning institutions and professionals have set requirements for writing in terms of a style sheet. This specifies what is preferred in terms of fonts, formatting, use of upper case, lower case, page numbering, heading styles, etc. An editor applies these requirements to the document while also examining content and structure. The client gets what they want and the editor proves their expertise by delivering what was clearly established at the outset. The relationship between the editor and the client is as important as the text needing the work.
My editing experience
Although most of my work involves writing and editing medico-legal reports, I have had opportunity to edit outside of this field. I have edited MBA research reports and a Master’s dissertation. I have also edited journal articles for online publications and assisted people with improving their CVs. My skill at editing has been transferable, quite easily and comfortably, and the interaction between me and my clients ensured satisfactory outcomes for everyone.
I have completed a certificate in Copy-editing and Proofreading through the SA Writers’ College. I also participated in a Mentoring programme through the Professional Editors’ Guild to develop myself as an editor. I remain committed to ongoing professional development by accessing training and education offered by the professional organisations to which I belong.
Karin Pampallis (Project Manager, Hidden Voices Project and Managing Editor, Global Labour Journal), my mentor, noted this upon completion of the mentoring programme: ‘Ms Grewan is organised in her editing activities, and observes required time frames very well… she is a competent and reliable editor.’ Di Smith, my tutor at SA Writers’ College indicated that I have ‘…a keen eye for detail and a very good aptitude for copy-editing and proofreading.’